We landed in Santorini jet lagged but bright eyed and happily met by the shuttle service at the airport. The quick ride was worth the 25 euro we paid not to deal with waiting for a bus that may or may not come. Our hotel, Argonaftes, has the most charming and helpful receptionist who gave us a map along with recommendations and a history of how Santorini was created. To briefly sum up, there was a giant volcano that blew up 4,000 years ago which created the caldera. Then a couple smaller volcanos grew inside the middle and those still go off once in awhile. Also, the lost city of Atlantis could be the Minoan civilization that was buried in that eruption. And you can see it (#4 Akrotiri)! Our first night was watching the tail end of sunset in Fira and having dinner.
1: Visit the cliffside village of Oia
The next morning we rented an ATV and headed north to Oia (pronounced Eee-ya). This is the most famous town with the white buildings cascading down the cliffside. There are cave hotels built into the limestone with aqua pools and sun bathers. Blue domed churches with charming bell towers dot the landscape and every tourist lines up for their Instagram photos on certain twisty corners.
2: Watch sunset from Fira
We could have done more on our first day but decided to take it easy and went back to Fira to watch the sunset over the caldera. Fira is the capital of Santorini and it’s very charming with lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful white buildings draped over the edge of the caldera.
3: Get a birds eye view of the entire island at The Monastery
The next morning we drove our ATV up, up and up to the highest point on the island. There is a monastery there with a small church you can visit. They sell pickled caper leaves, sun dried tomatoes, figs and other local treats. But the real draw is the 360 view of the island.
4: Visit 4,000 year old Akrotiri
Akrotiri was the site of the ancient Minoan civilization that was destroyed when the volcano erupted and it was covered with ash and mud. Some say this is the lost city of Atlantis. The mud helped preserve frescoes painted on the walls and there is pottery with the paint still visible. It’s fascinating and a bit eerie to walk through this site as you are mostly on the third level looking down into the homes and streets. It has only been 5% excavated.
5: Red Beach
Right around the corner from Akrotiri is Red Beach. A dramatic beach at the bottom of red lava cliffs with turquoise waters. We were too cold to swim in late September but there were plenty of swimmers and sunbathers enjoying themselves. You can take a boat to see White Beach and Black Beach from the dock nearby.
6: Wander the white alleyways of Pyrgos
Pyrgos is a traditional village with tight winding alleyways. Sometimes only wide enough for a donkey carrying someone’s luggage to their Air BNB! You’ll discover tavernas, restaurants and boutique stores tucked away and a few blue domed churches.
7: Wine taste at Santo Wines
Our last stop was wine tasting at Santo Wines. You’ll pay 45 euro for the 12 tastes with cheese and nuts. But if you want the caldera sunset view and just a glass of their delicious wine its worth the wind. Try the island grown Assyrtiko that is indigenous to Santorini!